Who Can Be Sued for Medical Malpractice?

Californians count on medical professionals to ensure their well-being. Most people encounter some sort of medical professional on a regular basis, and they should never have to worry about sustaining an injury caused by a preventable medical error. Unfortunately, medical malpractice cases do arise, and it is crucial for patients to be able to recover compensation for their losses. Here, we want to discuss who can face medical malpractice lawsuits in California. 

The Medical Professional Who Made a Mistake

The first place to look when determining who to file a medical malpractice lawsuit against will be the medical professional who allegedly made a mistake in the first place. After all, the person who caused the injury or illness to the patient should be the one held accountable.

There are various medical professionals that could make an error that causes harm to a patient. When most people think of medical malpractice claims, they think of a doctor. However, there are all types of professionals that we see on an annual basis who can make errors:

  • Physicians
  • Surgeons
  • Nurses
  • Physician’s assistants
  • Dentists
  • Pharmacists
  • Optometrists
  • Paramedics and EMTs
  • Anesthesiologists
  • Various types of health aids
  • …and more

Medicine is not practiced in a bubble. What we mean by this is that there are generally teams of individuals involved in caring for a patient. Any of these individuals can make a mistake, and when they do, it is important that they are held accountable for their actions. This is not simply just about money. It is about making sure that these mistakes do not occur again and affect other patients in the future.

The Hospital or Medical Facility 

Did you know that the medical facility where a provider works can also be held accountable for malpractice?

Hospitals and other agencies where medical professionals are employed can be held directly liable for their own actions, and they can also be held liable for the actions of their employees through the theory of vicarious liability. This means that the facility is held accountable not for their own negligence but for the negligence of those employed by them.

Hospitals and other medical facilities can be held directly accountable for a variety of reasons. This can include:

  • Failing to conduct background checks when hiring medical professionals
  • Failing to conduct inquiries into an applicant’s education, licensing, and training
  • Failing to address any complaints against a medical professional
  • Not having the right equipment or failing to maintain the necessary equipment
  • Failing to inspect or maintain their premises

Additionally, employers can generally be held liable for the actions of their employees, so long as the employee was acting within the scope of their employment duties when the negligence or active omission occurred.

What About Medical Device Manufacturers or Pharmaceutical Companies?

When many people think of medical mistakes, they think of faulty medical devices or defective prescription medications. Yes, devices and medications are a leading cause of medical errors across the country. However, these types of lawsuits toe a fine line between medical malpractice and product liability claims. In general, we will find that medical malpractice claims revolve around the negligent actions of medical providers that cause harm to a patient under their care.

Any person injured due to a defective medical device or faulty prescription medication will likely be able to file a lawsuit and recover compensation through a product liability claim as opposed to a medical malpractice lawsuit. However, we strongly encourage you to speak to a skilled Irvine medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible. The lines between medical device manufacturers and pharmaceutical companies and the medical professionals involved in these cases are often blurred. In some cases, manufacturers and health care professionals work hand-in-hand, which can complicate who should be held responsible for a medical error.